What can we make use of social platforms?
Today, most f2p games are distributed into various social platforms, like Facebook, Google play, App store, etc. And those platforms provide game developers with all kinds of tools, API, SDK, to facilitate game development. How does game designer use those platforms to enhance attraction, retention, and monetization of games？This article focus on those aspects.
There are some features that are common across all platform. Like people, invite, request, leaderboard, achievement, etc. Though there may be some differences in specification and use cases, they share common aspects to meet user’s same needs. What can we use those features in game design and user experience design？I propose some example to evoke discussion.
Example of applying
Leaderboard and scores
When user completed a level and gain a high score, you should let users share score to their social network sites, like Facebook, Mixi, Mobaga, so their friends will notice that new feed, and users express themselves through sharing. You should also let user challenge their friends immediately, this is when they most desire to. And you should show the leaderboard as well. By that user knows their performance in social context.
If your game features achievements, and it is the main gameplay of the game, you should consider showing achievements in-game. then users can see achievements and challenge their friends in the first place. Even better showing your friends’achievements in context. So you may arise desire to gain one or challenge your friends.
Show social context before, on and after-going quest
Give your users social contexts when they are before, on, and after a quest. Social context is important for enhancing user’s driving force. So not only show them when finished, show them all the time. Not only show them friend’s leaderboard, show them friend’s on-going challenging.
Show social context before quest challenge
Show social context on quest challenge
In multiplayer game, you should consider that let people choose inviting friends and auto-matching, and if they choose invite friends, you should show them friends availability, whether they are free, busy, or offline. When user have sent invitations, their friends should be noticed via push notification or in-game notification depending on their play status.
Video and replay sharing
To increase attractiveness and competitiveness, you could consider using sharing video records or game replays feature to let user share their exciting moments into Facebook or mobile apps with challenge links to promote your app.
Next paragraph, I willintroduce some prevailing social platforms for utilizing in game design and operation across processes of distribution, retention and monetization. Those platform include SNS platforms that users can share their experience with friends, like Facebook, Mobage, Mixi, or mobile platform, like Game Center and Google Play. You could consider using them as a checklist for practicing. Some paragraph is excerpted from platform developer doc for convinences, and organized for game designer uses. Thanks.
Facebook is the largest social game portal and feature its cross-platform supports. Because it is a social website, you can also utilize its big user base, and can share game experience with others. Facebook provide powerful social feature that you can use in your game.
App center is where users find your game, so fill your information clearly and attractively. They may have a try of your game. No matter how excellent your game design, if no user play your game, all is nonsense.
Use Facebook login is better for user experience, so attract more users to play. And can make use of big user base of Facebook
Associate game with Facebook page
This will add a 'Play Game' and a 'Visit App Page' button to the page.
So it is a good way to promote game.
A powerful tool to promote your games. When user like your one game, they likely like your other games.
Let user play games in different platform while keeping a consistent, continue and complementary experience is good way to attract, engage and monetize users.
Use Fluid Canvas to allow users to expand the size of your game based on the user's browser dimensions.
By loading some simple game graphics in the Canvas iframe before launching the dialog, you can give players a taste of the game before they log in, helping them to make a more informed decision about granting permissions to your game.
Display prominent social context
Providing a friends’ progress bar UI in the game or display a scoreboard positioning the player amongst their friends.
You can share story using the Opengraph for Custom story or just share easy light story.
You can share via the Share dialogue or via Graph API for a custom UI.
All share information will appear in news feed and the player's timeline
Sharing is important for new user acquiring and user engagement, and is better when using the custom story and integrated UI
Share story using Graph API
Appear in timeline
This involves publishing stories on behalf of people using game with a flash object attached. So it is very convenient and flexible for promoting games with various ways, like attach a mini games, a short video created by user in game, or post a high score in a level and encourage friends to beat.
Offer multiple ways to share
If user didn’t allow
publish_actions, show them a button that launches the native dialog to share.
The Graph API for Achievements allows you to publish user achievements in your game. Achievements are added to a user's timeline, and can also be surfaced to their friends through their news feed
Share scores and using leaderboard
The Graph API for scores lets game developers build social leaderboards and game-matching by storing players' scores as they play. These scores will appear on players' timelines and in the Games Feed on Facebook
Stories will be generated and shown in news feed and on timeline when a user gets a new high score, or when they pass their friends' scores.
The scores are useful for arising competition between users
Request can let users invite their friends to play game or send gift or ask help. And also sent match making request to strangers.
Request is very useful for attracting new users and re-engage old users.
You can use Frictionless Request to seamlessly request friends.
You should also custom your invite panel for better UI and user filtering.
In-game request for gifting
Deep linking is a better way to let the invited player directly go to the wanted the game point.
You can use notification to inform user about new feature or gifting them to re-engage non-active friends. But carefully don’t spam.
Virtual currency is a good way for user purchases in game and can be bought via 80+ payment methods in over 50 countries.
A good way to have a period stream income
Use Facebook gift card to increase income and user-interactions.
Earn coins with offers
Let user who want to play game freely earn coins through completing advertiser offers.
Allow discounts for specific users. Price differentiation may be a good way to increase revenues.
Sales and events
A good way to increase revenue.
Apple also feature its game center, with its large user numbers, and affluent sociality. Game center let you easily interact with friends, and challenge each other.
The most important place to promote your app, so carefully upload your app name, icons, app previews, screenshots, descriptions, what’s news, keywords, and category.
Allow you to create avatar, add friends and interactive with them.
You can have single leaderboards, combined leaderboards, leaderboard sets. Freely control them for your needs.
You can challenge your friends via achievements. Both in game and in game center
A group is two or more apps that share leaderboards and achievements. Once an app is part of a group, it no longer has its own leaderboards or achievements: it participates in the leaderboards and achievements defined for the group.
You can challenge your friend with achievement and leaderboard score.
Players can invite their friends or be connected to anonymous players.
In-game voice chat
Allows your game to provide voice communication between two iPhones
Google play is an open source platform for your utilization. With its bigger user base than any other mobile platform, you can reach friends easily.
The Google Play is the biggest and recognizable plays to promote android game, so carefully fill the forms about the game, you will get more users. You can also analyze the data with Google Analytics.
Play Games Services
Save game data to the cloud
Save game data, so users can continue their game when coming back.
Events and quest
Define the events for collecting data, which will be used for quest.
And the quest is useful for challenging users and rewards them when they completed quests. It forms the core play loops that engage users.
You can create a room, invite friends and auto-match for a real time match. The invitation will sent to friends. You can also message connected players.
You can invite friends, auto-match strangers to play turn-based game, and all the invitation and notification will be sent to users.
You can use achievement to encourage completion between users, and make progression in new feature.
Play games has two type of leaderboard. Social leaderboard and public leaderboard. Social leaderboard is made of people who are in user’s circle and share data, public leaderboard is made of people who are strangers and share date.
Gifts and requests
Mixi is Japanese biggest social platform, its users mainly are young people and fond of casual games, Mixi is similar to Facebook, let user share their game experience easily, but lack of cross-platform supports.
You can obtain information that distinguishes the app user called userHash.
People API enables you to obtain information on a user and who the user is connected to.
So it is the basic user graph
Like other Facebook, the Invite friends feature is a must-have in social game, you can make use of this viral feature to get user base larger and larger.
Allow user sent a request to friends or sent gifts.
Send Activities like Sharing in Facebook, user can share their activities to other users.
The created Activity is published in the feed list on the user’s profile page as well as on pages of Friends of the user.
Messages indicate the message-sending service among mixi users provided by mixi.
You can let users type the contents displayed in the pop-up window to type the message. After that, the sent message is delivered to the destination mailbox.
The mixi app can include the URL to external website, and the mixi app start URL with parameter.
Post mixi Voice
User can easily post the various experiences on the mixi app for communication with friends.
User use mixi payments for purchasing virtual items. Mixi payments can be bought by real currency.
Using the mixi payment for PCs, the item transaction using mixi payments can be incorporated into mixi app for PCs.
Independent domain APP method
The independent domain method is different from build-in web frame app method, you can use the independent domain for app lunching and custom your app.
There are some pro of this method:
·You can freely promote your app through your domain.
·You will not confined to the web frame size, and freely customize your app graph size.
·Users can login at any time, this give you a chance to present app information to attract their eyes first.
Mobaga is the Japanese biggest game platform, and its users are harder users than Mixi, so it is more convenient for monetization.
Acquiring users profiles and friends profiles
Acquiring user and friends profiles is the basic of social game platform.
Activities are users’ action history, such as “(Name) recorded a new high score” and “(Name) has moved to the next level”. Sent activities are displayed in chronological order on the “My Page” of the user’s friends.
Saving, acquiring, and deleting application data
Your data can be saving, so users can continue last session.
Allow notifying users from applications.
A pop-up screen appears on the user’s screen in order to create a MiniMail. Once the user sends the MiniMail, the message goes into the recipient’s Inbox.
Inviting a Mobatomo (Friends) to an application
You can invite friends to join a game, and the invitation will appear in friends’ mini-mail box
Make Request to external servers
In the Mobage open platform, user profile information, social statistics information, and so forth is provided through an API. Unique partner information and a lot of other information on the Internet beyond the above can also be utilized. gadgets.io.makeRequest() method is an API for making these possible.
OpenSocial has a feature that displays messages to users like simple dialog.
OpenSocial has a feature that displays messages to users with tab dialogs.
Writing Diary Entries
In Mobage, users can write diary entries and share them with other users. An API is provided in the Mobage open platform that allows this feature to be used from applications. If the API is used, a pop-up window for creating a diary entry appears on the user's screen.
Acquiring an Avatar
Each Mobage user has an avatar. An API is offered in Mobage Open Platform so that users can use their avatars within applications.
Inputting and Displaying Free Text
The Mobage open platform has an API for acquiring and saving free text that users have input. The saved text is monitored. You can use this creating message room.
Billing Items With Moba Coin
Billing items in Mobage is done with a virtual currency called “Moba Coin”. Moba Coins can be used on both PC and mobile devices, and users can make purchases with their mobile carrier account, Web Money, credit card, etc.